alcohol pregnancy drinking

This is the season where we are merry and bright, often partying into the wee hours with friends and family drinking wine, beer, cocktails and the odd brandy laced eggnog.

So I don’t want to be a downer, but if you are pregnant or even trying to get pregnant you should be partying virgin style, as the say, as repercussions on a growing fetus or even future growing fetus can be severe. So severe, that a few months ago, the Mayor proclaimed September 9th to be Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day.

Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are the leading cause of preventable intellectual disabilities in the United States; responsible for behavioral, mental and learning disabilities found in children.

It is kind of a no brainer, but to explain it further, the alcohol a mother consumes crosses the placental barrier and goes straight into her growing baby. Results show that alcohol can stunt fetal growth or weight, create distinctive facial stigmata, damage neurons and brain structures (which can result in psychological or behavioral problems), and cause other physical damage.

The main effect of Fetal Alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) is permanent central nervous system damage, especially to the brain. Developing brain cells and structures can be malformed, which can then have consequences for your baby’s memory, attention abilities, impulsive behavior, and poor cause-effect reasoning, as well as secondary disabilities; predispositions to mental health problems and drug addiction.

Fetal alcohol exposure is reported to be the leading known cause of mental retardation in the Western world!

Family Health Services Division reported that in 2010 there were 1,810 live births in Maui County, of which half were unplanned. In these pregnancies, although some mothers stopped drinking as soon as they knew they were pregnant, the fetuses had already been exposed!

In a study conducted in Maui County approximately 55 percent of these women reported alcohol use and 30 percent binge drinking three months prior to pregnancy. This increases the risk of giving birth to a newborn prenatally exposed to alcohol during the first trimester. A whopping 9 percent of mothers reported that they indulged in alcohol use during the last trimester of pregnancy!

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is 100 percent preventable. Simply put, if alcohol is not consumed during pregnancy, babies will not be born with this disease. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) there is an estimated 40,000 newborns that are affected by this disease in the United States each year. FASD are more common than autism and its effects lasts a lifetime.

No amount of alcohol is safe

So in this season, think before you drink. It may only give YOU a hang over in the morning, but it may affect your baby negatively for the rest of his or her life. They are the greatest gifts we are ever given, we should try and give them the best head start in life we possibly can! Try fresh coconut water instead.

*(Imua Family Services’ congratulates Christi Masters who has gained certification to train on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) 11/27/12).

Image Credit: Happy-Bandits, Department of Health

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